In the shadow of college, living in my first apartment in NYC, I committed a number of the food crimes often associated with young, broke, artists. Chief among these transgressions was my obsession with the humble hot dog. Sold in packages of 8, I considered the vacuum sealed missiles to be a solid two servings. Yes, you read that correctly, I considered 4 hot dogs a reasonable thing to eat for one meal.
Of course you’re wondering about the buns now. Well, my gluten-free solution to the tender-baked problem was to skip them altogether. Instead of nestling the snappy sausage in a yeasty coffin, I screwed the top off a can of baked beans and smothered sliced rounds of hot dog in a bubbling cauldron.
So, if you’re keeping track, a regular meal for me consisted of four hot dogs and one can of baked beans. It was the perfect ratio. And it didn’t stop there! In my post-collegiate opinion, that meal was missing a crucial carbohydrate. I needed something crunchy, something salty (as if there wasn’t enough sodium in the meal to begin with).
I hefted a fistful of pretzels on top of every bowl. That was my favorite meal.
Years later I think about that meal and feel my larynx press against my tongue, closing my throat and urging me to express caution in the kitchen. It really was a grotesque amount of food. But hot dogs have not slipped from their pedestal, high in my mind and golden on my tongue. Now I prefer to cook them over flames (gas or coals, just give me an open grill) and char the skins a bit extra on one side.
And I’m still tinkering with the American classic. In preparation for the holiday weekend I present you with this: marinated hot dogs. Slash the skins a few times and soak the sausages in a bag with vinegars, mustards, tamari, chili sauces, whatever you like. The goal is to embed even more flavor into the already processed flesh. The resulting treat is a giggling mash-up of high-brow style with low-brow ingredients.
And if all else fails, just dump the dogs in a saucepan with a can of baked beans. I’ll support you in that decision until my dying day.
¼ cup Golden Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup Honey
2 tablespoons Whole Grain Mustard
4 Cloves Garlic
4 Hot Dogs
Whisk together all ingredients (except the hot dogs)
Slash the skins of the hot dogs and throw them in a plastic bag or container with the marinade. Let them soak for at least a few hours, overnight is great.
Grill as you would any other dog.